The Davies, Route 9.

spanopolski-chukar

The Davies, Route 9.

Peak#26 2504m, Peak #27 2506m, Peak #28 2508m, Spanopolski Chukar #29 2576m, Karaulite #30 2533m, Banderishki Chukar #31 2738m, Peak #32 2500m, Bashliyski Chukar #38 2670m.

The Davies, Route 9. This is a long and arduous day with lots of bouldering that will test even the strongest legs. Be sure to pick a good day. Any adverse weather will turn a hard walk into a dangerous one! One early autumn day the Banderishki boulders were still covered in ice and I was forced to retreat. In July a hailstorm turned the mountains wintery and we quickly descended for an early beer! There is an escape route to the north about half way round the circus which I will describe in due course.

The Davies, Route 9 is a hard day, take food and water, allow at least 10 hours. This is hard walking over difficult ground. If the weather turns run away! The route can be cut into two days by using the escape route as the exit from the first day and the entry for the second day

From Vihren hut follow the marked trail towards Sinanitsa hut  (blue trail / yellow trail).  The path follows the valley floor towards Muratov peak with the river on your left. As you depart from the river you will climb up past the pretty Muratov lake and arrive at Banderitsa Porter. At the pass you will leave the marked trail. Turn left here heading south east. There is a trail that ascends gradually over easy ground to the start of the boulder work which leads to the first unnamed peak, #26 2504m.  Keep to the ridge line for the best fun or follow the faint path to the south that runs along under the south side of the ridge. baderischki_chukar_end_donchovi_karauli

Hike up and down a little until the until a steep drop leads down to a very sharp notch in the ridge line. Follow the path round to the right  (south). After 75m or so turn sharply up to the left (north). A steep vegetated and gravely slope leads to the second un named peak #28 2508.

Continue east along the ridge for another 200m, turn right here (south) to reach the col before Spanopolski Chukar. This is a fine little excursion to a wonderful view point. Spanopolski Chukar #29 2576m, stands alone over looking the rolling hills to the south of Pirin. Do not linger too long as there is still a lot of work to be done!

Retrace your steps back to the col and then  contour round to join the main ridge. The climb up Donchovi Karaulite #30 2633m is short and uneventful, descend the east ridge of Doncho  to an open col. Here there is a large obvious cairn ( pile of stones) that marks the north bound escape route.  You are now about half way round in terms of distance but the hardest part is to come.

Traverse around a minor top (not a peak). There is a lot of Kleck (dwarf pine) that looks impassable but there is a path over and through it which is quicker than dropping down to the right (south).  The push up to Banderishki Chukar #31 2738m  feels endless, the boulders are large and hard work! At and near the main summit the boulders are massive slabs with impressive chasms between them. This is tough going! banderishki_chukar

From the summit descend almost straight south down through more boulders to the col and then up the north slope of Bashliyski Chukar #38 2670m. It looks close, it isn’t ! The final climb is up and over, around and under a mass of boulders and klek. A real sting in the tail at the end of a long day.The summit is at the far end of the ridge and offers fantastic views.

Retrace your steps to the col between Banderishki and Bashliyski, contour back to the ridge line. The unnamed peak #32 2500m is on the east shoulder of Banderishki chukar. The going is difficult. A short distance down the ridge from #32 a descent can be made directly north. Make for a small group of pools/lakes below the peak, just beyond the lakes you will find the main red trail from Vihren to Tevno. Join this path heading north west back to Vihren hut.

Breaking the day in two. Escape route.

The Davies, Route 9. Remember we mentioned that cairn at the col after Donchovi Karaulite? If you wish to break this trip into two descend north here. The first part of the decent is steep and the semi vegetated slope is slipery with sand and loose stones. Go carefully. After a drop of about 25m and slope eases, Descend vegetated then bouldered slopes to the little lakes that you could see from above. Pass the lakes on the west side (lakes on your right) following the stream that drains the lakes. The descent is again steep and boulder filled for another 25m. Now break right through a steep vegetated slope towards a flat area filled with giant boulders. Descend steeply again through large boulders heading towards the cliff that borders the stream that feeds Ribno lake .  Follow this stream down to the lake. Skirt the lake until you join the main path back to Vihren hut.

To continue your circuit retrace your steps on the second day up past the lake and onto the ridge at the cairn.

N.B. #27 2506m.

The Davies, Route 9. Unnamed peak #27. This peak looks eminently doable on the map and feels like it should be included in on this route. Sadly the route is just too long to add another diversion off the main trail.

I feel it is worth doing this little mountain as a single day trip from Vihren hut, the route is pretty simple. From Muratovo lake head in almost a straight line towards the summit. Skirting left (east) of the klek at the base of the summit you will find a steep rock filled gully that leads directly to the summit. Descend  east down to Ribno lake and the main path back to Vihren hut.

This is a short day, maybe 4 hours. Importantly it is a great introduction to hiking off piste. If you have never walked off a marked trail I would suggest this as your first wild adventure! The area is relatively easy to navigate and there is zero chance of getting dangerously lost.  The route finding and scrambling are all at entry levels of difficulty. spanopolski-chukar

Di Davies

The Davies, Tevno Hut.

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The Davies, Tevno Hut 2512m.

Momin Dvor #51 2714m , Kralev Dvor #52 2680m , Demirkapiiski Chukar #61 2648m , Valyavishki Chukar I #50 2664m, Valyavishki Chukar II #48 2564m, Begovishki Preval #60 2533m.

The Davies, Tevno Hut. The Davies is a challenge, a game if you like, to climb all the peaks in Pirin over 2500m. Most of the route descriptions we will publish here will start at a road and ultimately end at a road as well. There is one region of Pirin however that is the exception to this rule. That region is the area around Tevno hut.  This chapter will be all about Tevno, the peaks surrounding the hut and the routes to and from the it. 20190622_204835

Tevno is a fantastic little hut, sat on a shelf of flat land next to a lake the hut offers shelter right in the heart of national park Pirin. The Hut and lake are high (2512m) and remote (4 hours walk from civilisation) but Valia and Ivan who run the hut offer a welcome and level of care that are well beyond the call of duty. The food is simple hearty fayre made with love and the hut is warm dry and clean.  I love staying at Tevno there is a special place in my heart for this wonderful spot. I really hope you get the chance to visit and I am sure you will fall as deeply in love with Tevno as I have.

 Getting to Tevno.

There are 4 main routes to Tevno. The red trail from Vihren. The blue trail from Damianitsa. The green (then Blue) trail from Bez Bog. The blue (then yellow) trail from Begovitsa. The red trail from Vihren is about 8 hours walk and all the others are about 4 hours.  I will not go into great detail of the routes as they will be explained elsewhere in this guide. 20190622_204832

Vihren hut to Tevno, 8 hours. This is a long walk but awesome. You can easily bag 6 or 7 of The Davies along the way! The trail is well marked and mostly follows the main ridge line of Pirin offering great views all the way. There is little or no water on this trail so take plenty.

Damianitsa hut to Tevno, 4 or 6  hours. you will need to find a local with a 4×4 to drop you at Damianitsa hut or allow another 2 hours walk from the end of the metalled road to the hut. Even if you can’t get a lift this is a lovely walk. The trail follows the river from deep within the forest up though alpine meadows, past high alpine lakes and into the mountains proper. 20190615_202834

Bez Bog to Tevno, 4 hours. Please not the opening and closing times of the chair lift at Bez Bog they change through the seasons so check their website or facebook page. From the Bez Bog hut you roll through mostly high alpine country past Popovo lake on the green trail. Just after the Popovo the trail splits, the main trail carries on due south over the u shaped pass and the trail to Tevno climbs up into a side valley full of pretty little lakes. The trail here is marked with blue trail markers and climbs through fields of boulders.

Begovitsa to Tevno, 4 hours. The Begovitsa hut is just inside the forest, sheltered and well fitted out with good rooms, showers and food. Relatively easily accessible this hut is seriously underrated and a bit of a gem! The walk to Tevno is through a wide grassy valley which in the spring is full of flowers. The mountains above Begovitsa offer a spectacular backdrop to a beautiful walk.

20190622_111508-1The Peaks around Tevno

Assuming you leave in the morning you will arrive at Tevno in time for lunch. Except if you are coming from Vihren. I normally have a bowl of soup and a salad, dump my bag and either set off for an afternoon stroll or have a sleep in a meadow!  There are 3 easy peaks close to the hut, Momin Dvor #51 2714m ,  Valyavishki Chukar I #50 2664m, Valyavishki Chukar II #48 2564m.  One 90 minutes away, Begovishki Preval #60 2533m and two that you should probably bag on your way to or from the hut Kralev Dvor #52 2680m , Demirkapiiski Chukar #61 2648m.

From east to west the three peaks north of Tevno hut are Momin Dvor #51 2714m ,  Valyavishki Chukar I #50 2664m, Valyavishki Chukar II #48 2564m.  After lunch at the hut Follow the main trail east to the Kralev Dvor left gate (Kralev Dvorska leva porta). This is the blue trail that leads back to Bez Bog hut. At the pass turn left and follow the steep ridge up to the summit of Momin Dvor it is about 150m of ascent over rough ground and fields of boulders near the summit.  The path though unmarked is clear and easy to follow as it hugs the ridge line.20190616_085245

From the summit head west down the ridge towards the saddle just above Tevno hut. Again the path is unmarked but clear enough.  At the saddle there is a cross and a tv aerial. from here it is less than a 100m up an easy clear path to Valyavishki Chukar I. From Valyavishki Chukar I the trail continues along the ridge over rough broken ground to Valyavishki Chukar II. It is a difficult descent from Valyavishki Chukar II either down the steep winter route west to Mozgoviska porter or straight down throught the boulders to the lake side. There is a chain to help you down the winter route but be warned it is steep and sandy. Some people re trace their steps back to the saddle above the hut. all threee descents are about the same time wise.

To hike all three peaks would take you about 3 hours at a gentle pace and offers a great opportunity for photos.

20190616_102451To the south of Tevno Hut about 90 minutes walk away is Begovishki Vrah (Begovishki Preval) . This little peak poking up in the middle of a steep spur looks intimidating from the north.  Its north facing cliffs are near vertical and made of broken rock. Thankfully the south side of the ridge is gently sloping grassy meadows.

From the hut follow the trail pass the toilets and washing area, it is not clearly marked but heads almost due south towards the lake at the foot of Kamenitsa. Crossing the stream at the foot of Kamenitsa the yellow trail markers become clearer. Follow the trail through the boulders around the west shoulder of Kamenitsa. The trail meets climbs up through a grassy slope to the pass where it joins the blue trail from Begovitsa. At the top of the pass turn right (west) and follow the faint trail along the ridge line. The trail doesn’t follow the true ridge line all the way to Begovishki Vrah. it drops down into the grasses whenever there are difficult rocky sections on the ridge. Just before the peak it drops about 15m down below the rocks and then climbs again to the summit between the rocks.

Retrace your steps back to Tevno hut. From Tevno to Begovishki Vrah and back should take you about 3 or 4 hours if you go gently. A local guide tried to tell me he did it in 90 minutes but I think 3 or 4 hours is more realistic for mere mortals like us!

If you are coming to Tevno from Bez Bog it is worth taking a little detour up Demirkapiiski Chukar #61 2648m and Kralev Dvor #52 2680m. Up and down Demirkapiiski Chukar will add about 90 minutes to your trip. From Bez Bog you pass Popovo lake and then follow the blue trail up passed Momini / Samodivski lakes. After the lakes the trail enters an area of boulders and Demirkapiiski Chukar is above you to the south. There is no clearly marked trail to the summit but if you hack up through the grassy field straight towards the summit you will be ok. The summit is an interesting little problem when viewed from below, sheer rock with an inviting chimney leading to the summit. It looks difficult, in reality there is a nice easy path to the right of the summit along the east west ridge. 20190622_205953

From Demirkapiiski Chukar descend back to the blue path and up through the boulders to the pass. We normally leave our bags at the pass and scramble up the 75m of ascent to the summit of Kralev Dvor it is a short steep climb but it’s only 20 to 30 minutes to the summit and very satisfying! Descend back down the same ridge, grab your bags and head on to Tevno!

 

 

Hiking the Davies. A guide to climbing all the mountains in Pirin.

dylan

Hiking the Davies.

I’ve been playing the game for ten years now; this year will be my 11th hiking the Davies in Pirin. I suppose its a bit silly to call it a game as so far there are only two of us playing it! BUT I have great hopes for this one. In a hundred years time The Davies will be as much a game as the Munros are in Scotland!

The idea is to climb every mountain in Pirin (I’ll go into details about what constitutes a mountain later on). At the moment we calculate 89 peaks to be mountains. In Scotland they have a similar game climbing Munros. They are named after the man who measured and listed them. I want to name them Davies here in Bulgaria after Di Davies who has done more than anyone to map and list the routes and peaks in Pirin.

muratovHiking the Davies, the game.

Climb every peak in Pirin, take a photo of yourself on the summit. When you have climbed them all  send me the photos and I will put you on our hall of fame here and send you a goody bag.

 

Hiking the Davies, what is a mountain.

In Scotland the categorisation of Munros has been a contentious  issue since they were first listed. The fundamental question is , What is a mountain? In Scotland they have a complex formula of height, distance from another peak, vertical drop between peaks…..blah blah blah and still people debate exactly how many Munros there are in Scotland.

For the Davies we have come up with a simpler format. Is it above 2500m? Does it have a Name? Does it appear as a spot height on a published map? And More importantly does it feel like a mountain.sivria

Big flat topped mountains, long spiky ridges, crumpled masses of rock, plunging ridge lines and random spot heights have caused huge amounts of debate. Ultimately we are not geographers. Strazhite are a perfect example of the problem, this ridge could be considered 3, 9 or 14 peaks; we still haven’t decided, but we will. The plan is to take a load of climbing gear a tent and some food and spend a few days up there. We will sit and stare, we’ll talk a lot, we’ll climb a bit, we’ll stand on top of every little spike we can and eventually we will decide. It might not be scientific but it works.

Remember we are just a couple of blokes who love Pirin and want to share that love.

A Davies is over 2500m, a Davies is a mountain.

 

Hiking the Davies, a brief history.

The Idea came from my great friend and mentor Di Davies. This nearly indestructible Welshman has spent most of his very long life pottering around Scottish, Alpine, Balkan and Greek mountains. Di has taught me everything I know about rock climbing and has kept me company for many years wandering around Pirin and Rila.

Tevno Hut 2512m

Tevno Hut 2512m

In 2006 we were talking about the Munros in Scotland and his desire to climb all the mountains in Bulgaria. Di is a determined guy and this chat soon turned into action. Within a few years he had found and mapped the routes up nearly every mountain in Pirin. These routes were then written up into a tourist friendly format and are almost ready for publication as a guide book!

I have walked many of the routes with Di and some without him. The route finding is no mean feat, most mountains require multiple visits to find the best route. What might be acceptable for us isn’t for most people. Peaks need to be packaged into do-able days for average people. Not everyone is happy to sleep out, few are happy with 14 hour route marches and even less are willing to carry rope and metal work! For 10 years Di has been in the hills all summer every summer and now we are nearly finished!

In the background I have been lobbying for changes to the management plan of the national Park. These more holistic and sustainable changes are now mostly in force. Park Pirin is now clearly mandated to promote eco tourism and support sustainability within its boarders. We now have a situation (excluding skiing) where tourism, nature and business can live in harmony.

 

Hiking the Davies, how hard are they?

IMG_20120802_161803Mountaineering, trekking, hiking or a walk! I love to call what I do Mountaineering! It sounds cool, there is an aura of bearded, rope and gear encrusted, hard man. If I am honest with you very little of what I do is mountaineering and when it is I normally make a huge fuss. The big tough man telling tales of daring doo behind the bar is normally a blubbering wreck when roped up on a vertical rock wall.

So how hard are The Davies? Di has broken down the 89 peaks into day hikes. For a moderately fit adult all the days will get you from civilisation to civilisation in less than 8 hours. You will not need ropes. This is walking.

Simply put if you can walk in the hills for 8 hours you will easily manage all these peaks.

 

Hiking the Davies, what to expect.

Mostly road heads are the start points, so you are sleeping in your own bed at night. You will need to stay in managed mountain huts less than 5 times, twice in un-maned huts and on 2 occasions you will/might need to camp. The  hardest day involves 1500m of up, 1500m of down and 8 hours of walking. None of the routes require ropes and you are always within a few hours of a cold beer and a warm dry bed.

IMG_20120802_113604Pirin is within a Mediterranean climate so summer days are normally warm and dry. If you start early in the morning and get back before 3 you are pretty much guaranteed wall to wall sunshine from Mid June to Mid October . The climate is mild, nights are rarely below 5 degrees C , days rarely over 25 degrees C.

Trails are well marked from hut to hut with painted markers on rocks and posts. Summit trails are normally marked with cairns, sometimes you will need to use your judgement and follow goat tracks. Normally there is a well worn path.

Most of the time you will be above the tree line either in Alpine meadows or scree and boulder fields. There is a pine bush here called Klek, 2m high bendy and dense it is a pig to get through and sometimes swallows up trails. You will have to fight your way through it on a couple of routes, you will learn to hate it!

The western and eastern ends of Pirin are more curvaceous the central section more Alpine. You will encounter exposed ridges around Vihren, Sinanitsa and Djangal. Yalovarnika might get your heart racing. Koncheto and Koteshki chal are interesting. But nothing is really exposed.

You will need a minimum of good boots, day pack with a waterproof jacket, food and water and a mobile phone. Most people take much much more but please never ever take less. Unprepared, mountains can be cold lonely places, it is better to take more stuff than less. Luxuries will make The Davies fun. A thermos full of tea or coffee, cold beers, snacks, hats gloves and jumpers. Spare socks and wet wipes are lovely to have. Sun cream is essential!

Hiking the Davies, routes.

Over this summer I am planning to publish the routes here in day by day format. So watch this space!

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